Ok get ready for a very long post; a post so long it Requires two parts. For my Flash class I had to create a frame by frame animation by drawing out a character and editing it in illustrator then manipulating it “frame by frame” in flash in order to create a looping animation.
Now originally, I chose Wolverine as my character to animate; but somehow, every time I choose Wolverine for something he ends up screwing me over somehow haha (see Digital Ink post). Also, I wanted to try something out of the box (which went REALLY far out of the box later on) so I went with the AT-AT from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
To start my project I looked up some reference pictures so I could begin drawing out the AT-AT by hand. I decided to draw it out in separate parts (i.e. body, legs, feet) in order to have an easier time manipulating it in illustrator.
As soon as I finished drawing and inking the AT-AT I scanned it and brought it right into illustrator to begin my digital ink putting everything together, as most of you saw in my post preview.
Once I finished inking everything out I had to think about how I wanted to colour it. I was originally going to use cell shading but I instead used a gradient mesh. I decided to switch because I feel that everything looks so much nice when using a mesh. I used different shades of grey for the body and head, Red for various parts of the head, and a solid grey for the legs/feet.
Once I finished my basic structure I started on my actual walk cycle. This is where things got very complicated for me and very, very frustrating. What I wanted to do was have the AT-AT move like it did during the Hoth battle in The Empire Strikes Back. Which mean I needed each leg to have its own cycle (i.e. one leg up, forward, bend, down,).
I continued to alter each leg one by one until I had a completed walk cycle. My firstcycle consisted of 15 frames, as you can see below.
When I thought everything looked good I exported my illustrator file into SWF frames so I could start working on everything in flash.
When I brought the file into flash I discovered that something wasn’t right (look at all those frames…). It took me a while but I figured out that to bring it in properly my layers had to be grouped in illustrator.
Everything looked a lot better once I exported the grouped ai (adobe illustrator) file but still, LOOK AT ALL THE FRAMES. I had to fix the positioning on all of them; it took forever.
This is when everything started to go downhill. This is what the shockwave file looked like for this particular set of frames
Everything up to this took a lot of work, unfortunately it turned out looking choppy. I asked for help from a friend and he told me that everything would look better if I made each leg movement 10+ frames. So it was back to Illustrator.
Some people said I went a little crazy on this and they were probably right. I followed my friend’s advice and ended up making an insanely huge illustrator file.
So Illustrator stopped working……. I don’t want to flood this post with the profanity I spewed at this moment so I’ll leave you with this site that pretty much summed up the experience
LUCKILY. Backups, I’ll stress it again, save your work and make backups. If you don’t, well, book mark the site I linked above.
After I opened up my backup I began working again. I’m not showing exactly what I did because it was just the tedious process of me rotating the legs in different yet similar positions. Here is a screenshot of my finished illustrator file.
After THAT, I thought about what I wanted to happen in the background; as we had to include a moving parallax background (which we’ll get into later). Since my scene was going to take place on Hoth, I created a new illustrator file and created some assets to use.
I’ll come back to these assets later.
I wanted to get my attention back to the AT-AT because it was the main focus of my animation.
Like the previous animation I exported the ai file into SWF frames and opened it up in flash. The process for getting the walk cycle is pretty much the same as the last one so I wont get into it again.
Heh, really thought after all that work the walk cycle would look a little better. It didn’t. This is where I felt everything crashing down above my head, I spent weeks on, that. I was running out of time and ideas and tried fixing my walk cycle in various ways including different backgrounds and completely re-doing my illustrator file; more than once. It isn’t that important but below was my final attempt at fixing this walk cycle.
For this particular cycle I tried to make the ground stop when each leg hit the ground. I didn’t finish it completely because no matter what I tried the cycle still looked awful. So I did the only thing I could think of, start over.